I stopped at a not-so-local JoAnn Fabrics today. I wasn't planning on it, but I walked past the window and saw a lot of 50% off signs over their fabric bolts. I figured it couldn't hurt to go look! My local JoAnn's doesn't have much in the way of clothing fabrics, just a lot of quilting cottons. This one was quite split down the middle: half quilting cottons, half clothing fabrics (knits, silks, shirtings, fleeces). I'm sure I bored my husband to death, but Benjamin was quite helpful rearranging all the thread spools in the display. :-) I was able to pick up 2 jersey knit fabrics for 1/2 off. After I grabbed the threads I needed, my total price for what I need to make 2 shirred dresses was less than $16! This is when my husband commented, "Why don't you shop here more often?" He may get his wish!!
Let's make some Shirred Sundresses!
(photo courtesty of TangerineSamurai)
So, while I found many tutorials online on how to create shirring, most of the available free patterns are designed for little girls, and this creates a problem for most adult women since we have boobs and hips that aren't necessarily proportionate to each other. The few patterns that I came across for women didn't go into enough detail for my liking. I'm a intermediate sewer. I have a good knowledge of fabrics and which one to use to get drape or structure. I know how to press a hem and tack down seams. I can do buttonholes, but I have to look up a refresher first, and zippers are off limits for me. I truly believe that this pattern, however, will work for absolute beginners. Just as long as you know how to use an iron and stitch a straight stitch, you can do this. I'll walk you through everything else!
First, we'll get our measurements. This is a "no-pattern" pattern, so it is very important that you get accurate measures with this. Get someone to help you, or stand in front of a mirror.
A: This is your smallest bust circumference. It is the measurement used to determine your bra band size. Measure under your bra line. (I measured at 28")
B: This is your bust length. Determine where you would like the top of the dress to lay. Then measure from that point, over the fullest part of your breast, to the bottom of your bra. This number is the amount of shirring you will need to give a great umpire waist look. (I measured at 9")
C: Determine if you would like a short mid-thigh dress, or a knee length dress, or even an ankle length dress. This is important to know before you head to the fabric store. Start from your under-the-bra measurement (My measurement B was 9", so I put the 9" mark at the bottom of my bra.), then let the tape measure hang. Make note of where you want the dress to end. (I measured 49" for ankle length and 34" for just-below-the-knee length.)
D: How wide of straps would you like? Straps are totally optional, but I cannot live without a bra, and frankly, I don't like my not-so-pretty bra straps showing. I chose a 2" width for my straps because that will give me 0.5" coverage on each side of my bra strap. I think length of straps is better determined after you have the body of the dress made and on. This way you give yourself a little room for error.
(You know, while you're doing all this measuring, measure yourself to make sure you're wearing the correct size bra. If you're built anything like me, you're likely to have been wearing a majorly wrong bra size for a long time. You'll be surprised at how great a good-fitting bra feels! Stay away from those online calculators. They're 90% wrong. Measure yourself around your bust at the widest point. Keep the measuring tape level with the floor. Take your fullest bust measurement minus Measurement A. Each inch equals one cup size. Your Measurement A is your band size, the result of your math is your cup size. So for me: fullest bust = 35", Measurement A = 28". I wear a 28G. Since you don't typically find that size in your local store, I had been wearing a 36DD for way too long!)
Next: Head to the fabric store!